How to Pack Jewelry for Vacation

Laura Lopuch

“Don’t take this the wrong way, but leave your Tiffany necklace at home,” My boss said and leaned in to emphasize her point. “Keep the fancy jewelry at home.”

Our husband and wife clients, my boss — the named female partner of the law firm — and I were sitting around the enormous, sleek conference room table. It was the Friday before a Monday when our clients’ civil trial began.

Welcome to the talk on How to Dress at Trial.

“You don’t want to give the jury the wrong impression that you could afford a verdict against you,” My boss said. “Or they might feel persuaded to hand out a large monetary verdict.”

Wondering what this has to do with travel? Hang on, it’ll tie together.

I was a litigation paralegal before becoming a freelance writer. I worked for a law firm which represented defendants (aka the ones being sued) in civil cases like car accidents, slip and falls, and a weird variety of other crazy schemes dreamed up in our litigation-obsessed society.

“Wear plain stud earrings. Avoid big jewelry and brand names like your Tiffany necklace,” My boss said. The wife touched her silver Tiffany necklace, the trademark chain looped through a key.

My boss’ advice was delivered with the goal of winning the case (we did), but the intent translates to traveling with jewelry.

Consider the Jewelry You Travel With

We’re judged by our fellow humans on the trappings we adorn ourselves with. Trappings like jewelry, clothes, shoes, sunglasses, jackets, bags. As trite as it sounds, our incomes and bank accounts are summed up by the brands and size of diamonds that we wear. Spot a two carat diamond flashing in sunlight and I assume the wearer (or her significant other) has money to burn.

If I didn’t have two coins to rub together and I was desperate enough, I might consider robbing her two carats to buy myself the necessities… or a luxury.

Or, following her back to her lush hotel room and grabbing her jewelry bag, which must be overflowing with other costly, sparkly jewelry. Just sayin’.

Of course, not everyone thinks like this, but when you travel with expensive, irreplaceable jewelry, you worry about the simplest things. Like taking your rings off to wash your hands and forgetting your pile of rings next to the sink, as my college roommate did in our apartment.

Only when you travel, it’s much harder to return to that sink and reclaim your rings. Especially if you’re on a day-long bus ride from Rome to Salzburg and that sink is now 50 miles in the rear view mirror.

Bring the Right Jewelry

Once, when I boarded a plane, I pulled my bag’s strap over my head, catching my earring and shooting it off into the sticky depths below the plane seats. It wasn’t until I sat down in my seat and the backing fell into my hand, that I realized my earring was missing.

Not until the plane touched down did someone find my earring and, blushing, I reclaimed the naughty little CZ stud.

After almost two decades of traveling with jewelry, I’ve learned these two rules:

For me, this means wearing a simple white gold wedding band. I pack two or three pairs of small earrings, including my CZ studs, and two necklaces.

How do you figure out which jewelry to pack? Bring only the jewelry that makes you happy; the pieces you reach for day after day.

If that jewelry is more expensive, hunt down a cheap version for traveling. You’ll feel like yourself and look good on the road.

Jewelry to Leave at Home

Here’s how to pack your precious jewelry: Leave it at home.

“My wedding rings have been in storage for almost ten years,” says Jenn Sutherland-Miller, editor at Packsmith. “I travel with a simple silver wedding band.”

Tuck away your name brand items like an easily-recognizable Tiffany necklace. Keep your intricate bracelets with their emerald tiger eyes at home. Lock up your gorgeous diamonds, rubies, and pearls. Secret away in a safety deposit box your fancy watches and cuff links.

“I always leave my wedding band and engagement ring at home,” says Megan Duggan, world traveler and avid jewelry collector. “And I just wear something simple. I don’t travel with anything I would be devastated to lose.”

I leave at home any jewelry that means something special. Including the aquamarine stud earrings that my husband gave me when we were still dating. And definitely my two anniversary diamond bands and engagement ring.

To figure out which jewelry to leave at home, ask yourself:

If your answers are “very” to both questions, better leave that piece at home. If your answers are “eh,” and “not hard,” then pack that jewelry.

How to Pack Jewelry

Jewelry can be a packing nightmare. Pieces are small with multiple parts that wander off and render the entire piece useless. Often involving long chains that always — no matter what you do — seem to get knotted. Traveling with jewelry is not always easy. With a few tricks and tips, you’ll tame the tangles.

Here’s how to pack your jewelry:

Necklaces

Traveling with necklaces is hard. These mischievous little buggers like to wrestle and tangle themselves into a hot mess.

My unruly necklaces misbehave regularly at home; on the road, they’re even worse. That’s why I only bring two necklaces: an everyday and a fancier necklace. I wear the everyday necklace and pack the fancier one. When packing necklaces, you have three options: straws, silk jewelry bag, or small plastic bag.

Straws

Loop one end of the necklace through the straw and fasten the clasp. A brilliant way of traveling with necklaces, but only doable if you have access to straws. The other downside is this method takes up a bit of room, but the upside is outstanding: No more tangled necklaces.

how to pack jewelry

Silk Jewelry Bag

“I usually wear one necklace,” says Megan. “Or bring a little fabric bag and drape the chain out, so the chain is around the bag’s clasp. That way the necklace won’t get tangled.”

Small Plastic Bag

Here’s the trick I use to pack my second necklace. Use one bag per necklace. Drape the clasp out and seal the bag with a small section of the chain on the outside.

Rings

Use a small plastic bag or tuck the rings into one of the silk jewelry bags. Keep your rings organized in a jewelry roll or organizer, if you’re traveling with one of those.

Bracelets

Roll up a washcloth or hand towel and slide the bracelets over the rolled up towel. Tuck the entire towel (with bracelets) into a plastic Ziplock bag to keep any bracelets from wandering off.

Earrings

If you’re not bringing a jewelry roll or organizer, you have two options:

Buttons
Insert the earring through a button hole. One button per earring pair. Use one of the many spare buttons included with a long discarded sweater or button-down shirt. Gather all your earring-buttons and corral them in a soft jewelry pouch.

Upside: Your earring pairs will always stay together. Packs down small.

Downside: Sometimes those buttons are small and might get lost in the dark corners of your bag.

Cardboard
Use a stiff piece of cardboard from a plastic bag box or shoe box. With a pen tip, punch holes in pairs into the cardboard. Insert earrings through the holes. Slide the entire cardboard into a quart plastic bag to safeguard against any earrings running off.

Upside: You see all your earrings displayed in a single glance. Perfect for traveling with many earrings.

Downside: A little bigger than a soft fabric bag. Might be hard to find a good spot to pack in your bag.

Your Travel Jewelry Bag

Ready for the whole enchilada? This is how to pack your jewelry without it becoming a gigantic, headache-inducing mess.

You have several options for how to pack your jewelry:

Jewelry Roll

Spring for a gorgeous silk or soft fabric jewelry roll to pack your jewelry. A well-designed jewelry roll is a perfect way to bring a few pieces of jewelry on your trip. And, it’s an even better way to keep it all organized.

Best part is the jewelry roll packs up into a small amount of space.

Jewelry Pouch

Remember that silk jewelry pouch? Use it to pack your jewelry. Slip your earrings (on buttons) into this pouch, wind a necklace around the clasp, and you’re good to go.

This is how I travel with my jewelry. The pouch’s vibrant color makes it easy to spot in my bag’s dark depths. And it makes me smile and feel pretty, even when my dirty hair definitely doesn’t smell pretty from a long day of travel.

Plastic Quart Bag

Go cheap by using a plastic quart bag to pack all your jewelry.

While it’s not high tech, the benefits are killer: You see all your jewelry at once, the bag easily closes, is waterproof, and pretty darned durable. If the entire thing breaks, plastic bags are easily replaceable.

Jewelry Box

Traveling with several pieces of jewelry? Opt for a jewelry box to keep your jewelry organized and orderly on the road. Go for a small jewelry box so you’re not tempted to bring every piece you own.

This jewelry box is only five inches square and perfect if you’re bringing several rings and pairs of earrings. Or, pick this smaller jewelry box and use the larger compartments for necklaces.

Glad Press ‘n Seal

Alex from Travel Fashion Girl recommends using Glad Press ‘n Seal.

Lay your jewelry out on one piece of Glad Press ‘n Seal and put another piece over top. Press and seal. Voila! Ready to go.

Only downside is when the plastic wrap loses its stickiness, you’ll need to find a new method of packing your jewelry for the way home.

Pill Case

Use each pill compartment for a piece of jewelry. Nice, tidy, and ideal for traveling with minimal amounts of jewelry or delicate jewelry that likes a hardy spot to live.

Travel Inspired Jewelry

“I use my vacation as an excuse to buy a piece of jewelry I like that will remind me of the trip,” says Megan. Steal a page from her playbook and pick up a new piece of jewelry on your travels.

Pick jewelry that is unique and brings up specific memories of that trip.

For example, in Alaska I bought a pair of earrings made with whale bone. Every time I wear those earrings — or my fingers brush against them in my jewelry box — I’m reminded of exploring Alaska’s wild ocean, rugged mountains, and free rivers.

Or, opt for jewelry that reminds you of your travels.

TL;DR

Keep jewelry neat and organized in your bag with these tips and tricks: